At the end of last year, HP announced they were updating the majority of their Chromebook lineup with improved processors and overall improvements. Of those, the Chromebook 11 G3 was one that was upgraded and the new Chromebook 11 G4 was released in November 2015. The smallest of the HP lineup of Chromebooks, the 11 G4 starts at a budget friendly $199 which puts it in the middle of stiff competition from the likes of Acer, Asus and others.
I have been using the Chromebook 11 G4 as my primary computer over the course of the last 10 days and in this price range, it is one of the best built Chromebooks I have used. It feels like a proper laptop, not a plastic toy, and it has the performance overall to meet almost anyone’s needs. While it isn’t perfect – the display and battery life are areas of concern – it is a solid enough performer for me to recommend it if you are looking for a 11″ Chromebook.
Here is my review.
Specifications of the Chromebook 11 G4
The Chromebook 11 G4 measures 11.8″ x 8.09″ x .80″ in physical size. That works out to be 300 x 205.7 x 20.45 mm in new money. It weighs 2.83 lbs which is slightly heavier than most 11″ Chromebooks. That’s due to the chassis of the 11G4 being aluminum instead of plastic.
Powering the device is an Intel Celeron N2840 Dual-Core 64-bit processor that clocks in a 2.16 GHz with a turbo of up to 2.58 GHz. It has 1 MB of L2 cache running at 1333 MHz. Graphics are handled by the Intel HD Graphics processor which powers the 11.6″ IPS display. The display renders a 1366 x 78 display UWVA at 220 nits. There are two memory options for the Chromebook 11 G4: 2GB or 4GB, both of which are DDR3L based. The 2GB RAM is single channel while the 4GB is dual channel. Likewise, you can select 16GB or 32GB of storage.
For reference, the model I am reviewing is the 4GB of RAM, 16GB of storage unit.
Like all Chromebooks, this one supports Wireless connectivity. On the 11 G4 it is done via an Intel 802.11 ac and Bluetooth 4.0 combo chip. Audio is provided via the MAX 98090 Ultra-Low Power Stereo Audio Codec.
The battery built into the device is 36 WHr 3-cell Lithium-Ion Polymer battery rated at 9 hours and 30 minutes. This is considerably lower than most 11″ Chromebooks in this size and price range which is something to consider if you are going to be using the device for long periods of time on battery power.
Overall the Chromebook 11 G4 has reasonable specs for a budget Chromebook. I’ll cover how it performed later on in the review.
Form Factor & Design
The outside of the 11 G4 is a black matte that is textured to give you a bit of grip when you are carrying it one handed. It gives a good tactile feel to the device but it does show fingerprints a bit. On the lid you will find a large HP logo in the middle with the familiar Chrome logo in the upper left corner.
On the bottom of the device there are four non-skid pads to keep the Chromebook securely in place even on slippery surfaces. Towards the front of the device you will see the stereo speaker grills. On the left side of the device you will see the security cable lock slot, the AC adapter to charge the device and the LED to tell you if the device is charging. Finally there is the SD card reader slot so
you can read external cards directly on the device.
Turn to the right side of the Chromebook are the ports that you will find on most Chromebooks today. This includes a HDMI port, a USB 3.0 port that can act as a charger, a USB 2.0 port and the 3.5mm headphone jack. There is also a small LED that pulses to let you know if the device is turned on.
When you open up the Chromebook you will see the 11.6″ display with the webcam mounted in the center above the display. The camera is HD and can shoot 1280 x 720 video at 30 frames per second. Next to the camera is a LED to let you know it is live and echo cancelling microphone is mounted next to it.
They keyboard is an island style keyboard with a 2.2 mm stroke that provides responsive typing and a comfortable feel. Below the keyboard you will find the touchpad which is also responsive and accurate.
Unlike other Chromebooks I have used, the textured body of the Chromebook 11 G4 makes gripping and carrying the unit easy and doesn’t give you the sensation that it is slippery. It is actually has a nice tactile feel to it which adds to the premium feel of the device. It does show fingerprints more than others if that is something that bothers you.
Having used this Chromebook as my primary computer for the last 10 days, I have overall been very pleased with the performance of it. It has plenty of power to run Chrome OS and I had no real performance lags until I got over 15 tabs open in Chrome. I was easily able to use Google Docs, Sheets and Slides simultaneously with no issues while watching a video on YouTube.
Keyboards on Chromebooks also are an area where most devices seemingly lack performance or feel. Most of the ones I have used feel cheap that flex significantly when typing. On the G4 that was not the case and like many other parts of this device, felt premium. The keystroke was solid and accurate while the feedback was what you would expect from a higher end laptop. I noticed
very little flex when typing and the keyboard does not feel cramped as you type. I found typing this review (which was 100% written from the G4) over long periods of time to be very comfortable without any hand or wrist fatigue.
While the touchpad of the Chromebook 11 G4 is plastic, it has the response and feel of a glass touchpad. I found that it was very easy to control and was accurate when I tapped to perform a function. HP has also included some gestures for swiping between tabs in Chrome which is a nice touch that makes it just that much easier to use. The size of the touchpad could be a little bit bigger but given the form factor of this device, I think it is reasonably sized.
While it does not have the resolution of larger devices, the 11.6″ display of the Chromebook 11 G4 is certainly better than most in this category. I found viewing the display for extended periods of time to be no problem with bright, crisp colors throughout. The blacks on the display are not a deep black but equally, they are not a washed out grey either. The display can be dimmed to a wide range for viewing in lower light and in bright sunlight it was still reasonably readable but was difficult at times.
One of the knocks on the HP Chromebook 11 G4 has been battery life and it somewhat deserved. Most 11″ Chromebooks will get you 11-12 hours of battery life where as this unit gets about 8 hours. That’s a pretty big delta and in my testing of the device over the course of the past month, I certainly ran into a few times were I was stretching the battery to the limit at the end of a busy day. But, in fairness, I spent a good amount of days using this device at my desk, so I’ll admit that I may not be the best use case. If you are one who is continually away from your desk or the ability to connect to AC, you will have to weigh out if the lower battery life is a big deal for you.
Having used the HP Chromebook 11 G4 as my primary computer over the course of the last month, I have to say it is one of the best 11″ Chromebooks I have had the privileged to test and review. It’s performance was solid, the keyboard is smooth and responsive, as is the trackpad. I found the display to be very good for an 11″ device while the battery life, for some, will be lacking. All that said though, with a price of $200 for the 4GB, 16GB of storage model on Amazon, it is hard to beat. I have no hesitation in recommending it for the vast majority of readers. If, however, you really need battery life, you may want to look at other devices.
The HP Chromebook 11 G4 with 4GB of RAM and 16GB of storage is $199.99 on Amazon.